European youth defend democracy

In the aftermath of the official banning of the communist youth league in the Czech Republic, and in defiance of that ban, 15 European communist youth groups met in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, Oct. 27-29.

The meeting’s central theme was “The struggle of the European youth against the attacks on social and democratic rights — a militant attack against anti-communism, for a life of dignity and a socialist future for youth.”

Participating were youth groups from Austria, Belgium, Great Britain, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Italy, Holland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the Czech Republic. A representative of the World Federation of Democratic Youth participated as an observer. Solidarity messages were received from the communist youth of Turkey, Yugoslavia, Slovakia and Georgia.

The meeting gave the groups an opportunity to analyze the economic and social conditions of young people in different European countries, to exchange their experiences of struggle under widely varying conditions and to discuss a coordinated fight-back against war and social injustice.

Discussion focused around the attack by European big business against the historic gains of the working class and how the condition of youth throughout Europe has rapidly deteriorated as a result.

The meeting’s declaration notes, “Liberal and social-democratic forces continuously attempt to promote capitalist reforms through privatization and through drastic restrictions of the rights of working people. This process is in the direct interest of the European Union, stemming from its imperialist character and the capitalist system.”

In quite a few European countries, communist organizations are being criminalized, their activities prohibited and their members jailed and tortured. The establishment of anti-communist institutes, memorials and museums is also on the increase.

“This anti-democratic, ideological and political witch-hunt does not target the communist movement alone,” the statement says. “It concerns all people as it strikes at the very essence of basic human rights, freedoms and their protection. It constitutes a dangerous precedent for the people’s movement, for trade union rights and the class struggle.”

Meeting attendees called on all anti-imperialist, progressive democratic youth forces in Europe to promote the struggle against anti-democratic measures in their countries and to continue to develop actions that raise political consciousness among young people.

They unanimously agreed to focus attention on the universities and classrooms of their countries, which are “crucial battlefields of ideas” where they can “answer the anti-communist, anti-socialist propaganda, promoting our ideology, Marxism-Leninism, scientific truth for the development of society and emphasizing the contribution of socialism all these years.”

Participants also agreed to build a European-wide database where all youth organizations will contribute information concerning anti-democratic, anti-communist acts in their countries.

Costas Papadakis, a leader of the Greek communist youth (KNE), noted the significance of holding such a successful meeting in the Czech Republic during a period in which enormous pressures are being wielded against any form of communist expression.

The meeting coincided with a national holiday marked by protest marches against the banning of the Czech youth group KSM. More than 7,000 signatures against the ban have been gathered so far within the Czech Republic itself, a tremendous number given the anti-communist climate there. The KSM’s legal appeal of the ban is scheduled to be heard on Nov. 15.

Laura Petricola (laurajopetricola@yahoo.com) writes from Athens, Greece.